Who wouldn’t like cupcakes at the end of a run? Personally, I like cupcakes any time of the day. If I did not have to monitor my caloric intake, I would have a cupcake a day. Have you noticed the cool designs and the variety of flavours out there now? In the old days, cupcakes were so basic. Nowadays, the rainbow of colours are so appetizing. Just thinking about them makes me hungry.
The name Cupcake Run has a history. The race director was turning 45 the first year she organized the event, and so she decided on the name “Cupcake Run”. How fitting, birthdays with cupcakes. Since that inaugural year, the event has continued to attract more runners. The organizer actually has a number of Cupcake Runs throughout the year, all with the same theme of serving cupcakes at the end of the race.
This Cupcake Run was held in March in Arlington, Washington. It was comprised of a 50K, half marathon and a 10K. If I were to run the 50K, I would definitely want to eat as many cupcakes afterwards!
When I got to the venue, I was already eyeing the finishers’ table. No cupcakes yet. But I saw many, many familiar faces. Lots of Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics. Most surprising of all was seeing Steven and Patti there. It had been almost over a year since I last saw them. Believe me when I say they are the most humble and down-to-earth couple around. And just in case you don’t know Steven, he is one of the founders of the Marathon Maniacs club, which just celebrated its 14th anniversary. I am pretty sure when the 3 founding Maniacs started this “most insane” running club, they couldn’t have imagined that the number of members would grow to what it is today. Over 15,000 members each for the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics club and still growing. What a success!
The club is world-renowned and its members are global. Often, at a half or a marathon event when I’ve worn Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatics gear, other Maniacs or Fanatics have come up to say hi – there is that form of camaraderie when you’re part of the club. Additionally, at some races we get special privileges such as private bathrooms or after-race lounge areas. There are good perks in joining this club, besides being called “crazy”!
As soon as the gun went off for the start of the half, the front runners charged off like darts. I always remained in the mid-pack. I ran with another Half-Fanatic who told me she was racing a marathon the following week. Quite a taper! She finally told me to go ahead of her if I wanted, so I ran up to another group of runners and chatted until we stopped to ask a runner who just hurt her knee. We were all concerned. But she insisted on continuing with her race. We passed her and continued on. I talked about injuries with another runner. She happens to be a physiotherapist and said she always tell her clients to rest and recover fully before attempting to run again (but she secretly admitted she’s made exceptions for herself).
It was one of those days where, throughout the whole race, I felt I could run forever. I was feeling strong. As I was running back towards the finish, I spotted the injured runner again. I stopped to check if she was doing okay. At that moment, some volunteer on a bike brought her a sandwich and she said she would be fine. So I passed her and shortly I came upon 12.5 miles on my watch.
I kept running hoping for a strong finish, and like I said I was feeling good and I was in the zone. I guess I was way too much in the zone because I missed the cut-off point to the finish line and ended up continuing on until I hit 14 miles. I looked around and realized something was not right. Indeed. I realized that I had kept going instead of making a left turn towards the finish, so I had to find my way back to the finish. There was no one around me, not in front or behind. My instincts told me to head towards the road; when I got there the shoulders on the road were so narrow, almost non-existent. I started to panic because I had no clue if I was going in the right direction and I had no money or phone on me. Cars were passing me so fast, I felt a real sense of danger running on the shoulder, so I slowed down to a light jog, taking it one step at a time. I noticed the road that I drove by that morning to get to the race and followed it; luckily I had slight memory of what sights I had passed so by the time I spotted the parking lot, I finally felt a bit calmer. Never had I felt so lost or frightened. Despite being an experienced runner, the unexpected can still happen.
When I got to the finish line (but going the opposite way), I realized I had run almost 15 miles. I didn’t see my husband at the finish line because he had gone searching for me, suspecting that I had probably gotten lost or hurt or something. I waited at the finish line for him, and when we saw each other we both felt relieved.
Once I was fully calm, I explained the situation to the race organizer. In order to get a finishing result, I had to prove to the race organizer that I had run longer. The runners who were behind me at mile 12.5 all pointed out to the race organizer that they saw me running ahead on the trail. But besides their word, how else was I supposed to prove myself? Luckily when I got home, I was able to download my GPS results which I forwarded to the race director. It was accepted and I was able to get my results. Phew, what an adventure!
I thank my lucky stars for guiding me. I still have goose-bumps each time I think about this race; the danger and the what-ifs that run through my mind.
So despite all those thoughts of mouth-watering cupcakes, I unfortunately did not have a chance to joyfully sample them. But I must thank the organizers and their family putting on such a fun race, despite my mishap. Portions of this race’s proceeds go towards needy families, which I am always in support of. It was a scary adventure for me personally, but I now know the proper route and will be back for more cupcakes! With my heartfelt thanks!